Zech. 7:1 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;
Zech. 7:2 When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,
Zech. 7:3 And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?
The time marker indicates that almost two years have elapsed since ZechariahŐs night of visions of the previous chapters. At this time some men came as representatives of the people to pray before the Lord at the temple. They had a question for the priests and prophets—ŇShould we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the TempleŐs destruction, as we have done for so many years?Ó (NLT)
Zech. 7:4 Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,
Zech. 7:5 Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
Zech. 7:6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
Zech. 7:7 Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
The fifth month mourned the destruction of the temple.
The seventh month marked the murder of Gedalia, the righteous governor of Judah (2Kings 25).
The Lord gives His answer through the prophet Zechariah. Again, as He often does, He frames His answer in the form of questions. (my paraphrasing)
These were questions meant to cause them to look into their own hearts. They were so bound by the traditions of men, that they had a hard time directing their thinking to true worship and adoration of YHWH. The fact that they totally disregarded GodŐs true prophets and listened instead to the false prophets declared the truth that their hearts were hard and their focus on self.
The church of today would do well to ask themselves the same questions. If we would honestly examine our hearts and look at the motives behind what we do, I believe we would see great revival in the church. The church today must learn to discern between the true prophets and false prophets—those that teach the truth GodŐs word and those that pervert its teaching. The only acceptable basis upon which to make that discernment is the truth of GodŐs word as set forth in the Bible. IŐm afraid that, just as in the days preceding the Babylonian captivity in Judah, those in the church today are giving more and more heed to the message of the false prophets/teachers.
Zech. 7:8 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,
Zech. 7:9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
Zech. 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
GodŐs message for the people as delivered by Zechariah was clear:
Zech. 7:11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
Zech. 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
This was the same message God had consistently delivered to their forefathers through His faithful prophets—beginning with Moses.
Deut. 10:16-20 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Is. 1:16-17 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Jer. 7:5-7 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.
Jer. 22:3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
Hos. 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
God is declaring that He was faithful to instruct His people and warn His people and call them to repentance through the faithful message of His prophets, but the people refused to listen. Their hearts were stubborn and hard; they refused to pay attention to GodŐs word. THEREFORE, God had to judge them in wrath for their sin.
Zech. 7:13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
Zech. 7:14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
The Lord gives the people a word picture—Just as the people refused to listen to My prophets as they cried out my message, so I refused to hear them when they finally pleaded for deliverance. I scattered them throughout the nations on earth. God is carefully declaring that although He used other nations to carry out His judgment, it was His judgment. Those nations would never have been allowed to touch Ňthe apple of His eyeÓ without His express empowerment. That judgment resulted in desolating the land of its people and its produce.
There is a serious warning in these verses. There comes a point when repentance is not an option. GodŐs righteousness demands judgment. Just because He is longsuffering, doesnŐt mean He is any less righteous or that He is impotent. The important truth to remember is that we cannot presume on GodŐs patience and compassion.